WeldWerks Colorado Springs taproom

Construction is underway at WeldWerks Brewing and Taproom, on Colorado Springs’ west side. The taproom represents the first expansion beyond its Greeley home base for the award-winning brewery.

Like most of us, once the 100 mph winds died down Wednesday of last week, I ventured anxiously out to assess the damage.

The scene reminded me of Carol Anne’s bedroom after the titular entity makes its official entry in “Poltergeist” — leaves and old newspapers from the overturned recycling bin had created a trash drift as tall as me in the far corner. Two mast-sized branches had crashed down on the rock wall I built a few months ago, a panel of fencing by the driveway hung askew, and the yard was seasoned here and there with roofing tiles.

As I surveyed the destruction at home and beyond — and on the news and social media — I realized how lucky I’d been, today and every day that something awful hasn’t happened. How quickly a thing that took weeks (fence) or months (house) or years (tree, person) to create can be obliterated.

While nature is the great and powerful equalizer, how it hits — and how we handle it — often couldn’t be more different.

To make the hard pivot to beer, because this is a beer column, let’s consider that landscape. Last year, 32 Colorado breweries closed their doors.

Despite multiple planned openings, not a single brewery did so in Denver during 2020, according to Westword. In Colorado Springs, there was one: Pikes Peak Brewing Co.’s Lager House. (Smiling Toad opened in a new location in early 2020, before the shutdowns).

Despite very real worries that the industry — breweries and the whole pub/bar scene — might never bounce back, and despite the handful of brewing operations that decided to scuttle startup plans during the shutdown, as we near the end of 2021 openings are on track to rival the pace of pre-pandemic years.

According to the Brewers Association, there were more than 9,000 breweries operating in the United States this year, up 6% from 2020.

In the Springs, we’ve welcomed Old Colorado City Brewing, Mash Mechanix and, on the east side, a new whiskey house, NEAT, at FH Beerworks. FH Beerworks closed its original Tejon Street location in early 2021, but the space was promptly reopened as Red Swing Brewhouse. Tap Traders’ craft bar and restaurant closed, but was reborn in September with a fresh look and new owners as The Alexander, a joint venture by Blackhat Distillery and the Public House Pub and Grill.

Bell Brothers Brewing opens Dec. 31 in the former Zeezo’s building, 114 N. Tejon St.

And on the west side, Weldwerks Brewing’s long-in-the-works taproom continues to inch toward … well, something I can imagine someday serving me a Juicy Bits.

As Pikes Peak Brewing Co. owner Chris Wright put it, on the eve of opening his new Springs brewery last August (and preparing his staff for whatever might lie ahead): “Nothing surprises me at this point in our life. But selling beer, instead of not, that’s a win in my column.”

Because sometimes you’ve just got to strap on the beer goggles and forge ahead. Build, rebuild, recommit.

That’s what I will do, too. Right after I finish this column. Then this beer. And figure out where the wind blew my rake. I’m pretty sure I had a rake.

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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